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Rules for watching dolphins in UK

The Marina Management Organisation (MMO) has recommended the WiSe scheme to boat owners and operators as it issues a reminder that dolphins, porpoise and whales are protected species along with the following warning:

"Disturbance of dolphins is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the MMO is reminding boat owners and operators of registered passenger and charter vessels about the rules and best practice relating to marine wildlife. As the warmer weather reaches English shores it brings with it increasing opportunities to observe dolphins, porpoises and whales. Whilst this is a fantastic opportunity for wildlife watchers and marine tourism, it is essential that the health and well-being of the animals is considered at all times. Endangered species dolphins, porpoises and whales are protected by wildlife legislation including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Under the Act it is an offence to intentionally and/or recklessly disturb these animals, with offences of disturbance carrying a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.Disturbance by boats often causes stress and harm to dolphins, porpoises and whales, affecting their ability to feed, breed or nurture their young.

To ensure the safety and appropriate protection of these animals the MMO recommend that boat and vessel owners follow the Wildlife Safe (WiSe) scheme.The scheme, which is a UK standard for commercial marine wildlife watching, includes a code of conduct and sets out best practice for wildlife watching."

The code includes that boats should:

* Stay 100 metres away from the animals,

* Avoid groups of mothers and young completely,

* Switch engines into neutral if animals actively come over to boats,

* Animals must not be actively pursued when they move away, and where they bow ride alongside vessels, vessels should not increase their speed or change course.,

* Animals must not be touched as this could be considered an offence.

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